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Community members have two more days to give gifts to Cambridge and Boston children through the Giving Tree, a program that helps make sure that every child gets a new toy during the holiday season. Friday, Dec. 10 is the gift deadline.
Last December, 1,400 children opened new toys provided by the Giving Tree, which is cosponsored by MIT's Public Service Center (PSC) and Panhellenic Association.
People who wish to participate should call Heather Trickett, project coordinator at the PSC, at x3-0742 today (Wednesday) or tomorrow to get the name, age and gift request of a child. New, wrapped gifts can be dropped off on those two days at the booth in the lobby of the Student Center or in Lobby 10. On Friday, gifts should be brought to the Public Service Center (Rm W20-547).
The 10-year-old giving tradition has established affiliations with nearly 20 social service agencies in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, which forward the names, ages and wish lists of children in their care. This year it's being run by Linda Ungsunan (SB 1998, now taking graduate courses as a special student in the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology), the community service chair of the Panhellenic Association.
A February 1999 thank-you letter from the executive director of the South Boston Neighborhood House to the PSC referred to parents whose lives have not improved with the booming economy. It said in part:
"The harshness of the reality that the Christmas season may be disappointing to their young children is devastating to these struggling parents. Your thoughtfulness in remembering these families has gone a long way in providing some stability and joy in their lives."
The Neighborhood House funneled gifts to many South Boston families, one of which had three children ages 8 months, 8 and 14, whose father was sick with cancer and unable to work.
Another agency, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, wrote: "In the midst of all the demands of the holidays, you reached out to children and teens who have no families to depend on."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 8, 1999.